Lessons from Chilecon Valley

by Andreas Perez de Fransius, Peace Is Profitable Contributor

A crucial ingredient for peace is cross-cultural understanding between different nations. One of the most obvious ways to promote such feelings is to allow people from different backgrounds to meet and work together. Migrants also happen to be particularly creative and entrepreneurial, which is one reason why freedom of movement is profitable for both countries and individuals.

One of the great ironies and injustices of globalization is that goods can cross borders in a faster and cheaper manner than people. To make things worse, the failure to sign the Arms Trade Treaty earlier this year means that weapons are among the goods that face the fewest restrictions. While free trade deals are frequently negotiated for goods, they rarely consider the rights of people to cross borders.

With this in mind, it is heartening that the world-leader in free trade is now a pioneer for opening its borders to people as well as foreign goods. Chile has a record number of free trade agreements (FTAs), which means that it currently has agreements with countries that together make-up 86% of the world’s GDP. In its recent FTA with Australia, Chile brought a new issue to the table: making it easier for its citizens to live and work “down-under.” This is an effective way of improving Chileans’ skills in English, while gaining work experience and contributing to the Australian economy.

Chile has also opened its borders to foreign citizens. Since 2010, Start-Up Chile gives promising entrepreneurs a yearlong visa and start-up capital of US$40,000. Until now some 900 entrepreneurs from 37 countries have taken part. This has brought creative solutions to the country, which will contribute to a well-needed diversification of its economy. At the same time it has brought a largely homogenous population some additional international exposure. Opening up borders in this way contributes to both peace and profitability.

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